Two-time James Beard Award nominee Andrew Weissman is old-school. You won’t find him breaking out hydrocolloids or meat gels in the kitchen—for him, classic flavors and flawless technique will always be the Holy Grail.

Weissman studied at the CIA in Hyde Park, New York, back when “it was all foundational French technique.” After graduation, he headed straight for the source of the cooking styles he had learned, living in France and working under chefs Bernard Andrieux and Jaques Thiebeult Andrew. Returning to New York, Weissman opened Manhattan’s Le Cirque 2000 to great acclaim, before deciding to head home to San Antonio in 2001.

Once settled back into his hometown, he opened the 40-seat Le Rêve, touted by national media as the best restaurant in Texas and a place that redefined San Antonio’s dining scene. “I imposed reservations and jackets,” says Weissman, whose own dress is more akin to that of fellow Texan Lance Armstrong. “And in San Antonio, nobody wears jackets.”

Since Le Rêve closed in 2009, Weissman has built a mini-empire in San Antonio. His Osteria il Sogno and the Sandbar Fish House & Market—both located on the site of the former Pearl Brewery—remain among the city’s most celebrated dining spots. “My cuisine, when it comes down to it…I don’t do anything newfangled, stuff with gasses or anything like that,” he says of his career in cooking. “My stuff is always technically and foundationally rooted.”

And Weissman shows no signs of slowing down. The forthcoming The Luxury, a cargo container concept, will further his reach in San Antonio. “It’s food I like to eat,” he reveals, “You asked me what 10 dishes I remember most fondly. This is the stuff that will be there.”

Interview by Nick Schonberger (@nschon)